Vibes Review – Dancing Sumo Wrestlers….. Need I Say More?
Laughing Jackal’s third mini is a very unique music-rhythm game named Vibes, and being a fan of music games (I am proud to say that I have beaten guitar hero’s 1 through 4 on expert), I was looking forward to seeing what it was all about. Well here’s how the gameplay works: symbols of the face buttons (X, O, ECT) come from all directions, you must move a cursor in the middle of the screen (via the analog stick) so that it faces the symbol coming towards it and push the face button that corresponds to the symbol.
It is a challenging concept that will probably be tough to pick up for people who aren’t used to rhythm games, but for those of us that are it can be a very fun way to play songs. The gameplay is easily comparable to beats, another game on the PSN that features the ability to play your own songs, so the first thing you probably want to know is: “is it better than beats?” It’s a tough question to answer. From a gamers point of view, definitely, having human designed ‘levels’ really works for this game, the way it can make your thumbs move can be so fun; the level designs for Vibes are so much more fun than any program that just reads song files and adds button pushing instructions, could ever make. From a music lovers point of view, however, it might not be able to compare to beats, simply because playing any song you want is an amazing feature for music lovers.
Steven from Laughing Jackal once commented that beats seemed like something to do while playing music, whereas Vibes is a game that is played with music, and although when I first read that, I disagreed; but now that I have played it I really think he’s right. Vibes is a game, and in comparison to it, Beats isn’t.
The soundtrack is pretty respectable with thirteen songs, and each song is pretty lengthy, the only problem is that I don’t think anyone will have ever heard of these songs, but they are good songs, from a variety of genres, at the very least I liked them. All of the songs seem to be independently published via the internet, the track list can be found here. When you consider the price of downloadable songs for other games, having 13 songs for less than $6 is a really great deal, especially since the gameplay rivals that of games like “Rockband: unplugged”.
The graphics are also impressive; the backgrounds are 3d with a camera moving through a predetermined path where the player can see some colourful pulsating objects and things, like the rubber style duck, which really, how can you not smile when you see a dancing rubber duck? Laughing Jackal actually shows some humour using the backgrounds. The sumo wrestler background is my favourite simply because of how funny it is with the songs; it plays during the J-pop song, and the song “secret lover”. It really has me looking forward to the slapstick humour in the upcoming Laughing Jackal “Ace Armstrong vs. the alien scumbags”.
There’s also a nice feature that allows you to change the graphics of the cursor while you play that’s worth mentioning.
The gameplay is pretty deep, it includes a combo-system, the more notes you hit, the bigger the multiplier. There is also a ‘pulse meter’ at the top right corner that indicates your health, when you do good, it is green, and indicates a quick, strong pulse, when you do bad it gets red, weak and slow, until finally, you lose. Also when you hit notes (I am just going to call them notes, they don’t officially have a name), you must time it well, and aim well, when hit it perfectly, the circle that the cursor is in lights green, when you do good, it lights yellow, and when you do bad, red. In addition to normal, single notes, there’s also long notes which are fun since you must try to keep the cursor in the center of them as they move. The game functions like a career mode would, the player unlocks songs and higher difficulties as they play more, and I must say, the hard difficulty is really tough, I don’t think I will ever finish a single song on hard.
Overall, the game is a blast! I think the only thing keeping me from recommending Vibes to everyone, is that people who aren’t fans of the rhythm genre might find it too difficult, perhaps a beginner mode designed for players who have never played a music game would have been worth implementing; but for those who do enjoy rhythm games, it is a really great game that will keep you entertained for longer than you could expect for a game only about 3 times the price of a downloadable song in Rockband. The game is as original as it can get for a genre that has been flooded in the past five years, and Vibes could easily get away with a sequel or two, just for the sake of having more songs.